Surviving and thriving and getting that professional archives position.

Welcome. If you're here, you're probably wondering how to get some job--maybe the perfect professional archives position or maybe just something you can use as a springboard--and you're seeking advice on how to do that. From searching for advertisements to writing a resume or cover letter to making it through the interview. And hopefully even beyond.

No guarantees, you probably already know a lot of this, but maybe some help from a lot of people who want to make sure that good candidates get good jobs. If you've got better advice? or need further explanation? Please share in the comments.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Resume part 2: what to include

For starters, take a look at the bullet points in the previous posting. In many of them I've given you an idea of how many people aren't all that interested in seeing them so you can decide for yourself how you think those apply to your own record. Again, the relevant point applies. If it's a grant-funded processing project, your own ability to write grants may not be something you'd include. I'll save you the trip back and summarize them in order of what our respondents generally found was most valuable:

Beginning: Degree & credentials, professional experience. Followed up by professional development/continuing education. Then publication record, presentation/teaching record, and grants obtained. Lastly, professional affiliations.

To follow up, I asked: What are the most important elements of a resume/cv? A more open-ended question, perhaps too open-ended. The benefit to asking a question is that while yes, I received some repeats of the info I provided to you in the previous posting, but this gave respondents the opportunity to emphasize or to provide a more over-arching view of it.

Here goes.
For starters, close to 1/3 used the word relevant or something that equated. But as to specific elements, 27 of the 51 respondents (53%) said some variant on "education and experience." Again, a chance to emphasize what they felt most important. Of the remaining, 16 said experience (31%). So I think you can assume that a lot of our respondents felt the need to emphasize that. Many of these and the remaining 8 elaborated further on specifics.

Here's some of what they had to say, style-wise. We'll get deeper into this in a couple of posts when we talk about what makes a good/bad resume, but here's some bits. Well-organized, easy to reading, articulate, chronologically complete.

Content-wise: detail is important. Don't just list your job title (more about that in the next post). Some respondents want to see outcomes: if you hired for a processing position, how many finding aids did you complete? How big were the collections? Many respondents liked to see development over your experience which almost requires that you go into detail as to job duties.

Here's some of the more specific comments that I think you might find useful as you develop your resume.
  • Depending on level applying for: Entry-level, education, basic experience (internship, volunteer), areas of interest. Mid-career: experience, projects, professional development, service.
  • Professional experience and (less so the further one is into one's career) educational background. Evidence of professional involvement and development efforts is nice to see, too.
  • Details, especially for the experience component. How big were the collections? What subject areas or types of records were they? Easy to read and well organized. Don't assume we know you have a skill, especially if it's in the announcement--write it down.
  • Where you have been & what you have been doing.
  • Education credentials, previous experience, publications, committee work
  • The specific job duties performed. It's how we tell what qualifications and experience they really have and how that will translate to our job.
  • Work experience and education are the two most important elements to me. Though other elements could be elevated in importance depending on the position. For example, a director would need good experience in writing grants or a reference librarian may want to demonstrate instructional experience.
  • Practical experience; I want to see what they've done themselves that prepares them to do the requirements listed for the job. If there are huge gaps in employment I would like to see them acknowledged and some explanation given.
  • work experience and education with demonstrated commitment to professional development (e.g. attending conference, presentations, etc.)
  • What academic qualifications and professional experiences qualify the person for this particular job?
Next up? A closer look at the experience and education components: what the recruiters want to see. Can you believe we're half-way through my proposed set of postings? We'll see about that since the first half is already about 5 posts longer than I anticipated. Thanks for sticking with me so far.


  1. I have 3 resume-related questions...

    I graduated 3 years ago and have spent the entire time at 1 job, which I am still at now. In college I had 3 different internships, one of which is with the same employer that my current job is from. Given that any job I apply for next will be above entry-level (currently a Manager), how important is it to get into details of those internships on a resume, versus devoting more space to my actual paid job?

    Second, I did my internship with my employer about 6 months before I graduated, and then interned with another company, before being hired by the original one after graduating. Should I list my internship with my current employer as a seperate entry on my resume, since there was another internship between this one and my current job?

    Lastly, I started as an Archival Assistant and a year and a half ago was promoted to a Manager position. Should I list the original position seperately on my resume? Should I not even mention it? Should I only mention that I've been promoted on my cover letter, or not mention that either?

    Thanks so much, your insight has been incredible helpful!

  2. I tend to prefer things in chronological order in experience, so my take would be to list the internships separately and following the professional paid jobs, even though one is with the current employer. You do need to devote more time to the paid job than to the internships but keeping the internships in is useful especially since one is with the same place which indicates that they liked you well enough to hire you back.

    As for the two positions at the same place: I've run into this one myself. I just realized that I'm going to get a little long-winded on this since I want to provide samples from my own resume to demonstrate so if you can hang with me til tomorrow, I'll do a BTP posting on it over the weekend.